The Canton Repository

June 29, 2001

Ney pushes own campaign reform version 

     Copley News Service

WASHINGTON — Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, introduced his own version of campaign finance reform Thursday with the argument that the high-profile legislation authored by Sens. John McCain and Russell Feingold has lost
support since its passage by the Senate on April 2.

“Their coalition is falling apart,” said Ney, chairman of the House Administration Committee. Ney’s committee has jurisdiction over campaign finance reform in the House. “Members have read these bills (McCain-Feingold and legislation similar to it). They’re starting to understand the implications of them.”

The legislation sponsored by McCain, R-Ariz., and Feingold, D-Wis., is designed to reduce the influence of money in politics by banning unregulated, or soft money, contributions to national political parties.

Ney’s bill would limit unregulated contributions to national parties to $75,000 from each individual donor. Currently, there’s no limit. The measure prohibits
parties from spending any of the unregulated money on political advertising or campaigns. It allows the parties to spend soft money on voter registration and
get-out-the-vote efforts.

The current limit on campaign contributions — $1,000 for the primary and $1,000 for the general election for a given candidate from an individual — would remain in Ney’s bill.

“We have produced a good fair product that has reform and still lets free speech flow,” said Ney. Opponents of McCain-Feingold and a similar bill authored by Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Martin Meehan, D-Mass., contend they would violate the free speech guarantee in the Constitution by preventing, or limiting, the ability of special interest groups to air advertisements on candidates before an election.

As a demonstration that he reached out to supporters of campaign finance reform, Ney said Rep. Albert R. Wynn, D-Md., agreed to co-sponsor his bill. Wynn is a leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has expressed concerns that McCain-Feingold could hurt black candidates by limiting funding for get-out-the-vote drives, and give white candidates an edge by raising the limits on individual campaign contributions.

Shays and Meehan introduced a modified version of their bill Thursday to make it more similar to the McCain-Feingold legislation. “We are confident that our bill will pass the House in a form that the Senate can accept,” Meehan said during a rally for the measure Thursday.

The committee chaired by Ney sent Ney’s bill to the full House with a favorable recommendation. It also reported out the Shays-Meehan bill, but with an unfavorable recommendation. Ney said both his bill and the Shays-Meehan legislation will be voted on by the full House within days after Congress returns from its weeklong recess.